(Last Updated on : 15/12/2012)
Santhali is an Indian tribal language that belongs to the Santhali sub-family of the Austro-Asiatic language family. This language is very closely associated with Ho and Mundari languages.
Distribution of Santali Language
Santhali language is chiefly spoken by more than six million people of the country. It is also spoken in neighbouring countries of India like Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. In India, this language of the Austro-Asiatic language family is spoken in the states of Assam
, West Bengal
. Santhali language is mainly spoken by the Santal tribal community. This tribal community is the largest tribal community of the country and the people of this tribal community are considered as quite backward. Most of the people of Santal tribal community work in coal mines or steel factories of Jamshedpur
. Santhali language is basically a dialect of Munda Tribe
History of Santali Langauge
During the British rule in India
, Santhali language was written in Roman script. But presently, Santhali tribal language is written by using Devanagari script. This tribal language has a lot of similarities with Bengali language
. Because of the similarities between Santhali language and Bengali language, the educated Santhali writers prefer to write in Bengali language. One of the main reasons for using Bengali by the Santhal writers is the similarities in the usage of phonetics. It is believed that Santhali language is actually older than Indo Aryan languages
. Moreover, it is estimated that Santhal script is comparatively a current advancement as Santhali language did not have any written language. It used Devanagari, Latin or Roman and Bengali writing systems.
Role of Thinkers for Santali Language
Requirement for a separate Santhali script was felt by some thinkers in Santhal tribal community. This need was felt as because none of the existing scripts were considered sufficient for communicating the Santhali language. Further it resulted in the discovery of new script that is known as 'Ol Chiki'. Pandit Raghunath Murmu invented this script in the year 1925. He is famously known as Guru Gomke among the Santhal people. This title was given to him by the Mayurbhanj Adibasi Mahasabha. He contributed largely through his writings for enriching the Santhal tribal community. Pandit Raghunath Murmu wrote over 150 books comprising vast range of subjects. These days, Santhali language is not that much in use. However, some of the educated people belonging to the Santhal tribal group still use this language for doing literary works and writing books.